Genre-mixing has lead to both wonderful and disastrous results in the past. Jungle Rumble blends rhythmic controls with strategy elements in an intriguing way, but is it worth monkeying around with or should you throw it away like a warm handful of feces?
Jungle Rumble follows the struggle of a fellowship of monkeys called the Mofongo Tribe whose bananas are being snatched up by a rival tribe known as Kagunga. Before we continue, it should be noted that the entire game is played by holding the Vita vertically. Everything looks adorable with graphics that resemble construction paper artwork. The cute visuals help amplify the sense of humour to be found in every cutscene where the monkeys interact in hilarious ways. They each have their own personality as one embodies a cockney stereotype while another uses Yiddish colloquialisms. It's ridiculous yet it's hard not to fall in love with these little chums. The music is comprised of a wide array of percussion-based tracks that make the gameplay much simpler due to their head-bopping vibes. Overall, it's presented as a cohesively silly and charming package that will keep you smiling throughout.
The game is played by tapping on spaces to the rhythm in order to move monkeys and have them attack enemies. It's quite simple, but it may take you a while to get used to considering how unique it is. A visual representation of the beats can be seen at the top of the screen but it disappears as you perform chains of successful moves. Every move takes four beats to perform. To illustrate this, in order to move a monkey one space you must first tap them, then a space for them to move to, then the monkey again, then the space again. To attack an enemy, you need to collect a coconut then throw it by tapping the monkey three times then the target once. As you play, your enemies move around the stage so being able to outsmart them and plan ahead is a necessary skill. The combination of strategising while keeping the rhythm can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for those willing to learn something new.
Jungle Rumble only features one mode; a campaign that's divided into a variety of stages. Each stage has the goal of either reaching a bunch of bananas or defeating all of the enemies. There are a few bonus stages as well that teach you some advanced skills and can be quite an enjoyable distraction. Once you learn how to play effectively, the entirety of the campaign can be completed within about an hour, so it's definitely on the short side. However, each stage rewards you with a medal according to if you managed to finish it under a certain amount of time, defeat all of the enemies, and keep all of your monkeys alive. Getting gold medals can become a very challenging endeavor. Therefore, a great deal of replayability is added for perfectionists.
Behind its uniquely charming surface, there exists a couple of flaws that are difficult to forgive. The most frustrating of which is when the game suddenly start to lag. It doesn't happen all the time, but it will surely mess up your rhythm when it does. There's nothing more irritating than being in the middle of a stage only to get a game over because the screen stuttered a bit and you missed a beat as a result. Another event that you'll find annoying is when you restart a stage over and over because it's unclear how to pass it. Most stages are set up in a way that their goal is obvious but sometimes you'll encounter situations that seem impossible to overcome. These trial and error stages act like turbulence in an otherwise smooth journey.
There's a lot of potential fun to be had in the genre-blending Jungle Rumble. Besides a couple of frustrating issues, fans of rhythm games will have an enjoyable albeit brief time with this monkey-filled adventure.
- + Charming graphics with great percussion-based music and tons of truly funny moments
- + Unique mix of rhythm and strategy gameplay
- + Getting gold medals is a rewarding challenge
- - Campaign only lasts about an hour
- - Occasional lag will mess up your rhythm and therefore cause cheap game overs
- - Requires too much trial and error